Is it possible to create a scalebar in ArcMap that shows distances in custom units? I understand how to do this manually, but it would be great if I could define a custom unit of measurement (let's say "1 swimming pool") and use that to dynamically generate a scalebar.

  • Scalebars usually measure distance, but a swimming pool might be a volume or an area. Or do you mean the length of a swimming pool?
    – fmark
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 2:05

2 Answers 2


You could do it by defining your own projection;

  1. Copy your current projection file
  2. Open the copied file
  3. Under Linear Unit select custom
  4. Enter the number of metres per unit (eg, 10m for a pool)
  5. Save this projection
  6. Change the projection of your data frame to this new projection
  7. Add your scale bar to the layout - it will have Unknown Units, but you should be able to change that in the scale bar properties - and the length will be there
  • Good suggestion :)
    – fmark
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 2:05

There is no way to do this using the default scale bars that I am aware of.

However, you could create a new point layer, add the number of points you want to measure in a row, use symbology to scale them according to a field which you will set to the size of swimming pool.

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